For those with diabetes, the chance of experiencing health problems with the feet is higher than it is for those without the disease. And in the event that blood sugar has not been closely monitored and controlled for some time, the likelihood of complications is even greater. In addition to reducing the speed with which foot injuries can heal, diabetes can also damage the nerves in the feet, putting people at risk of infection that can go undetected due to lack of feeling. Known as diabetic nerve pain or diabetic neuropathy, in the worst cases, this kind of damage can lead to amputation as infection can become severe. As a result, it is important for people with diabetes to take some precautions in order to prevent any problems and ensure they are managing their disease.
Check Your Feet Daily
Giving yourself a daily foot check is an important part of maintaining your foot health as the careful examination is necessary to gauge the condition of your feet as well as identify and treat any complications that may be occurring early on. As you look them over, check to make sure that your feet have no cracks or cuts. You should also keep an eye out for any bruising, peeling skin, swelling, or red spots. There are some places that may be hard to see so either use a mirror to check them or have a loved aid in your examination. Any changes should be noted and monitored, as well as reported to your doctor.
Wash Feet Regularly
Part of caring for your feet with diabetes is cleaning them regularly. A thorough cleaning involves soaping up your feet and washing them with lukewarm water. When regulating the temperature, test the level of heat with your elbow or a thermometer as damage that has already been done to the nerves may prevent you from feeling the true extent of the heat. As you wash, it is important to remember that you are not allowing your feet to soak but are instead giving them a thorough cleaning. When it comes time to dry, use a soft towel to blot away the moisture on your feet and between your toes as well. You will then want to moisturize with lotion, taking special care to rub it in deep all over and be extra mindful of the space between toes.
Don’t Soak Feet
Typically, soaking one’s feet is a method for hydrating skin, relaxing muscles, and comforting aches. For those with diabetes however, it is best to pass on this everyday remedy. The reason for this is that the skin can actually break down during this process, putting individuals at risk for infection. Recovery time may be impaired as well, meaning that it will take longer for the skin to heal. There is another risk as well for those already affected by nerve damage. Because of decreased feeling, there is a chance that even if water is too hot it will not be detected, which could put people in danger of suffering burns.
Stay Away From Heat Sources
Soaking your feet is not the only thing that those with diabetes need to worry about as other heat sources need to be avoided as well. Along with water used for bathing, people with diabetes should be mindful to avoid hot water bottles, heating pads, and microwavable warmers. Even the fireplace can be grouped with these heat sources. Each presents a possible burning hazard as the loss of feeling brought on by diabetes can make it considerably difficult to distinguish appropriate levels of heat from dangerous ones. Even in addressing ordinary heat sources, it is best to use a thermometer or elbow just to confirm temperature.
Exercise has a number of benefits but for those with diabetes, they extend beyond overall well-being to foot health. Something that is nice about the required physical activity is the fact that it does not have to be more strenuous than simple walking or foot exercises but the effect of such efforts can go a long way. Most notably, exercise can enable improved blood flow which is vital for foot health. Before embarking on your workout plan however, be sure to consult your doctor as they may have certain stipulations or even drills they can recommend that will help to make your exercising as valuable as possible.
Picking Proper Shoes
The coverings we select for our feet can go a long way in helping to prevent injury. Some things that should be taken into consideration when deciding what type of shoe to wear is fit, as they should not feel tight and toes should be able to be moved properly. In order to protect your foot, close-toed shoes are the best type to purchase and they should not have a high heel. You can also consult your doctor or podiatrist to advise you on the kinds of shoes that would work well for you. Finding the proper sneaker will not only improve comfort, but it also helps to prevent calluses or corns from forming.
Especially in the wet and winter months, it is crucial to keep your feet from extended exposure to water as this could cause them to become cold and worsen circulation along with the sense of feeling. Part of preventing this can be done by wearing socks equipped to minimize risk. Light-colored socks work best and they should be thick and soft, preferably made of polyester or cotton. Also, be sure to toss any socks with holes in them as these are ineffective and increase the likelihood of complications. It is also important that shoes are never worn without socks. During the winter, do your best to prevent your feet from getting wet as the temperature will likely cause your feet or toes to become cold.
When the summer comes around the opportunity to take a beach day arises, there are some precautions that should be taken just to ensure the days go off without any undesirable snags. As a general safety measure, be sure to apply sunscreen to your skin. For those with diabetes, take special care to apply it to the tops of the feet as well. And on top of the various swimming gear that should be brought along, don’t forget to grab a pair of swimming shoes. They are a cover from sharp shells and other debris that may be unseen from above the water.
Cut Your Toenails
Something that should be done at least once a week for someone with diabetes is trimming down toenails. Because they are constantly growing, the likelihood that our nails can cause self-inflicted cuts grows as well. And given just how sharp the edges of our nails can be, especially near the insides of toes, those require regular cutting. As you cut them down you can also utilize a nail filer to further dull any points. It is not always easy trimming nails either so in order to make that a bit easier, save cutting for after bathing or showering. Nails will be softer at that point and it will be more manageable to trim them back.
Communicate With Your Doctor
Above all else, when it comes to managing the health of your feet with diabetes, communicating with your doctor is imperative. Whether you’re beginning to feel different sensations, notice any blemishes on your feet, or simply have questions, consulting your medical professional will allow you to get the answers you need and have your issues addressed, which will minimize the complications that can occur. Even in the event that an injury or change seems minor, let the doctor confirm that instead of self-diagnosing. A strong line of communication between doctors and those with diabetes will make the process of keeping feet in optimal health much easier.